July 28, 2022

Cancer treatment delays in COVID-19 patients

By: Judy Mathias
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Cancer treatment delays in COVID-19 patients

This large prospective cohort study from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, found that multiple patient factors, underlying primary malignant neoplasm, multimorbidity, geographic location, receipt of vaccine, and COVID-19 severity and diagnosis date were linked to delays in cancer treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Using data from 3,028 patients in a large COVID-19 oncology registry, the researchers found that in 962 of 2,103 patients experiencing anticancer drug delays or discontinuation, delays were higher among:

  • Blacks vs Whites (odds ratio [OR], 1.87)
  • Hispanics vs non-Hispanics (OR, 1.91)
  • patients with two or more comorbidities vs patients with zero to one (OR, 1.23)
  • patients with metastatic vs locoregional disease (OR, 1.63)
  • patients who had COVID-19 complications vs those who did not (OR, 1.52).

There were 89 of 125 patients who experienced surgical treatment delays, and delays were higher among:

  • patients in the South vs Midwest (OR, 9.66)
  • patients with zero to one comorbidities vs patients with two or more (OR, 0.26).

A total of 95 of 202 patients experienced delays or discontinuation of radiation treatment, which were higher among:

  • those with two or more comorbidities (OR 2.69)
  • those with lower local-area median household income (OR, 0.41).

The findings suggest that some health disparities may have been exacerbated as an effect of cancer treatment delay during COVID-19, the researchers say.

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